What to play on Game Pass: Sandbox/Building Games

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Don’t know what to play on Game Pass? We’ve got you covered with these Game Pass recommendations for those who just want to build stuff. These sandbox/building games are the perfect answer for gamers who just want the freedom to shape their own gaming experiences. Game pass has plenty such games to choose from. So let’s take a look at some of the best the service has to offer right now.

Dragon Quest Builders 2

This is the second installment of the sandbox/building spin-off of Square Enix’s legendary Dragon Quest JRPG series. Dragon Quest Builders 2 mixes up things with real-time combat and the ability to construct buildings and such.

New to this second installment is an optional first-person viewpoint, fast travel, and up to 4-player online cooperative multiplayer.



Watch the trailer on YouTube

Developed by Argentinian studio HopFrog and published by Humble Bundle, Forager is farming and crafting game in the same vein as games like Stardew Valley.

Forager has a personality all its own, however. It also sets itself apart not only with its colorful pixel art style but also as “a crafting game stripped down to its very bones,” as one reviewer put it. Forager eschew some of the fluff found in other games of its ilk. Is it tedious at times? Sure. Is it also addictively enjoyable? Absolutely.




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What is there really left to say about the best-selling video game phenomenon that hasn’t already been said? Explore an unbounded world where the only limit is your imagination. Craft, build, explore and shape the game to suit your own unique experience. If you have a creative bone in your body, then you owe it to yourself to try Minecraft if somehow you are one of the few gamers left who have yet to do so.




My Time at Portia

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“Start a new life in the enchanting town of Portia!”

In this game from Chinese studio Pathea Games, players work to build the fledgling city-state of Portia into a proud city. Take over the abandoned workshop of your father – a great builder in his own time. With his handbook and workbench, you’ll gather materials and craft them into new items, and grow crops, raise animals, befriend the inhabitants of Portia…and maybe even find romance when you can spare the time.



Starbound (PC Game Pass)

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Chucklefish’s procedurally generated 2D sandbox adventure may draw immediate comparisons to Terraria. Some might even call it “Terraria in space,” but to do so would be to sell Starbound far short.

The game has you exploring the universe as the pilot of a wayward spaceship. Within Starbound’s open world you are free to take on story-based missions and quests, or just explore at your leisure. Along the way you can gather materials, farm, build things, craft items, and more as you discover uncharted planets.



Stardew Valley

Incredibly, this amazing title was created by a single developer – known in gaming spheres as ConcernedApe. He was heavily inspired by the Harvest Moon series, and his creation is obviously a labor of love.

It is also one of the greatest farming simulations ever made. Stardew Valley has also been called one of the greatest video games ever made, of any genre. It has sold 20 million copies across a slew of platforms. It is a very open-ended game, with a seemingly limitless number of things to do: fishing, cooking, crafting, mining, exploring, scavenging, socializing (and possibly even romancing) with the folks of Pelican Town, and so much more.



Watch the trailer on YouTube

Terraria is one of the forerunners of the modern sandbox building game. It is also one of the best examples of the genre. Rarely have disparate gameplay elements like building, crafting, mining, combat, survival, and exploration come together so harmoniously into one gameplay experience.

In Terraria players can even reshape the world itself, and combat features a bit more in Terraria than it does in some of the other games on this list, with several bosses thrown into the mix. In some cases, defeating one of these bosses can have unforeseeable ramifications upon the game’s world.


The Sims 4

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The Sims has been traditionally more of a social simulation game. But this fourth installment of the main series introduces more building elements into the game. It seems like a natural fit, and The Sims 4 takes the Build Mode from its predecessor and elaborates on it with a fully revamped, room-based iteration of the feature. Obviously, this game puts more an emphasis on the social aspect of its gameplay, which serves to set this apart from the other games here.





This independently developed city building game takes a decidedly different approach to the genre than most others. And by different we mean streamlined. Creator Oskar Stålberg has described Townscaper as more of a toy than a game. It uses a minimalist interface and low poly graphics that pop with brilliant, vivid color.

Townscaper is more town-generation than town building. There is no real objective here, and the gameplay flow is freeform in the extreme. The result is a more relaxing city-building experience that takes most of the details out of the players hands, and presents a very unique city building game.


Tropico 6

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This construction/management/political simulation is considered the strongest entry yet in the long-running Tropico franchise. As “El Presidente,” the leader of the Caribbean island nation of Tropico, the player will be tasked with guiding the archipelago through 4 eras of history: The Colonial era, the World Wars era, the Cold War era, and the modern era.

Build the nation’s infrastructure and make Tropico into the envy of the Western Hemisphere. Or pour all your focus into customizing the presidential palace if you prefer. For the first time in the franchise virtual dictators will have to deal with a “fully simulated” citizenry who may choose to revolt if things go too sour in the island.


And now for the capstone

So what do you think of these sandbox building games? Among them are some of the most played and most acclaimed video games of all time. There is just something about that freeform, sandbox play experience that keeps people coming back to these games again and again. And it’s great to see so many of them on Game Pass – it’s one of the things that make it the best value in gaming right now.

If you don’t have a subscription to Xbox Game Pass yet and are interested in signing up, you can do so here. You can also learn more about Game Pass over on its FAQ page. And don’t forget to check out our other “What to play on Game Pass” posts for other Game Pass recommendations.

Featured image courtesy of store.steampowered.com.